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Could a Role as an Account Executive Be the Perfect Career for You?

Sales Account Executive: Why This Could Be Your Dream Job

Wait, before you click away, hear me out. I realize that the thought of being a an Account Executive (a.k.a Sales Representative) may not align with what you thought of as your post-military “dream” career. But keep in mind that what you may think about sales, really comes down to how you think about sales. Let me explain…

Let’s start by asking, what do you want from your post-military career? Are you hoping for a career analyzing situations and helping people solve problems, that pays a good salary with a great opportunity to move up the ranks? If you said yes, then we may be on to something.

How you think about sales

Many people think an Account Executive’s job is to simply sell products, in fact your perception of sales may be tainted by your past experiences with pushy sales representatives and used car salesmen.

But, the AE’s role is much more about helping clients find solutions that can make their companies more profitable, their employees more productive, their processes more efficient, or their personal lives more convenient, meaningful, stress-free, or enjoyable.

Personally, I think Account Executives should be known as Solution Consultants. When you see the AE role as an opportunity to come along side and help others solve problems, the job stops being about about selling products and more about helping customers discover the solutions your company’s products can offer.

Consider the salary

As for salary, Glassdoor reports that the average salary for an AE is about $63,000 per year, with additional cash compensation (commissions) of $31,000.

That is just the median salary; Account Executive salaries can go well into the six-figure range. For example, an AE working at a large software company can make upwards of $350,000 a year, while an AE working at a smaller manufacturing firm may make somewhere in the range of $80,000 a year.

You already have what it takes

As a veteran, you have already demonstrated an ability to problem solve and work with others to ensure the success of your unit and/or completion of a mission. If you are like many veterans you may have given some thought to the idea of going into consulting – analyzing, problem solving, helping others, and sharing your insight and expertise.

An AE needs the following fundamental skills and characteristics to be successful:

  • Communication Skills
  • Organization Skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Negotiating
  • Determination
  • Focused on Goals

Sales or Solutions? You choose

The reality is that no business can survive without committed, knowledgeable, ethical, and hard-working Account Executives (Solutions Consultants). Just like no company can survive without someone to help them determine which products will help their company be competitive and efficient.

Don’t let your bias about sales keep you from a career in problem solving, helping others, sharing your insight and expertise.

In the end, being an Account Executive is all what you make of it. You can approach it from the old-school salesperson point of view, or you can take on the solutions consultant approach and become a vital part of your client’s and your company’s success.





About the author

Terry Howell is a retired Coast Guard veteran, where he served for 20 years.

He is currently the Executive Director for Veterans' Legacies, a non-profit that works to preserve veterans personal stories to help educate our youth.

Terry is also the author of The Military Advantage, an annually updated guide to military and veteran benefits.